MSPs seek views on board equality

23.06.2017

Holyrood’s Equalities and Human Rights Committee is seeking views on the gender split on public boards. They are looking for opinions ahead of their scrutiny of The Scottish Government’s Gender Representation on Public Boards Bill.MSPs seek views on board equality

Public boards in Scotland play an important role in managing and overseeing public bodies. At present, women make up around 42% of public boards, but are 51.5% of the Scottish population.

However, the Gender Representation Bill sets a ‘gender representation objective’ for public boards to have 50% women non-executive members by 2022. The Bill also allows recruiters to give preference to the candidate who would help a board achieve its gender representation objective in cases where male and female candidates are equally qualified.

Equalities and Human Rights Committee Convener, Christina McKelvie MSP, said:

“This Bill is proposing a significant change to the governance of public bodies in Scotland.

“Improving female representation in the boardroom of public bodies, including organisations such as the Scottish Police Authority, our colleges and universities and over 100 other public bodies, is something we would broadly support.

“But we want to know if this Bill could be improved or strengthened in any way or if changes are needed. Does the Bill have sufficient teeth? Are quotas the right way to go?”

Public bodies covered by the legislation would include organisations such as the Scottish Police Authority, the Scottish Fire and Rescue Service, health boards, enterprise agencies, colleges and universities.

Key questions the Committee is asking include:

  • Does the Bill go far enough – should we also look to legislate for other protected characteristics?
  • What would the impact be on people applying for an appointment as a non-executive member of a public board? And the impact on recruitment.
  • The Bill requires public boards to report on the operation of the Act, what should any reporting requirements cover and why?
  • Whether there should be penalties for non-compliance with the Bill and what these should be.

Background

More information on the Bill is available on the Parliament’s website: http://parliament.scot/parliamentarybusiness/Bills/104998.aspx

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